Top tips for buying at auction

Purchase your dream home at auction with confidence!


Credit Union SA

Member Experience Team

16 Mar 2022

| Home Loan

Buying at auction doesn’t need to be a scary prospect. In fact, with the right planning and advice you might end up saving thousands of dollars!


Never have you needed to be more prepared than when bidding and buying at auction, because if the hammer falls on your winning bid then the property is yours. There is no cooling off period following an auction.

Before auction day it’s always best to ensure you have inspected the property thoroughly and arranged a professional to conduct a comprehensive building and pest inspection.

Pre-game: here’s the prep before the auction

Know what it’s worth

Now this goes without saying, but it is also really important you have a good understanding as to what the property you’re bidding on is worth. Price ranges offered by vendor’s agents can be helpful as a guide, but this is best done by researching recent sales in the area on comparable properties. We can help you with our ‘Free property reports’ service. Powered by CoreLogic RP Data, you can enjoy unlimited access to comparative market analysis reports documenting such things as the sales history at a property, street or suburb level. Ask us for a free property report today!

Have your finance sorted

An auction contract is not subject to finance. If you’re buying at auction, you need to be certain you can get the money to pay. It’s a good idea to speak to your Lender to seek pre-approval before you start bidding on any property. 

Check the contract

The contract of sale will be made available prior to the auction date and it’s a good idea to have your solicitor review it, as contracts of sale can still be negotiated before the auction.

Auction day

Arrive early on the day to register your intention to bid. Be sure to have a predetermined “maximum bid” you’re willing to go to, as the bidding process can be exciting, and some people can get carried away. If you have the chance it’s a good idea to go to as many auctions as you can, so you can observe and familiarise yourself with the bidding process and auction regulations.

Reserve Price

Sellers will usually have a reserve price, which is the minimum amount they are willing to sell the property for. The auctioneer can tell you whether or not there is a reserve price, but not what the amount is. If the reserve price is met during the bidding the auctioneer will announce “the property is on the market” and every bid from that point onwards could buy the house.

If the property is “passed in” it means the reserve price hasn’t been met and the property won’t be sold ‘under the hammer’. However, the highest bidder is often invited to negotiate with the vendor’s agent first.

Winning Bid

When you are the highest bidder and the reserve price has been met, it is time to celebrate as you have just bought a house! 🥳

From here you will need to sign an unconditional contract of sale and provide the agreed deposit, which is (usually 10 per cent of the purchase price under standard auction conditions). Settlement usually happens 4 to 12 weeks after signing the contract, but this timeframe can vary.

Be aware that if for some reason you are unable to complete the purchase, there can be significant consequences. These include paying the cost of relisting the property for auction and the shortfall between your bid and the next winning bid. This is why it is crucial to make sure you can get the money to pay, and stick to a predetermined maximum bid.


Now you own the house – it’s time to insure it. From the minute the hammer falls, you are the equitable owner of the property. If the seller doesn’t have adequate insurance and say the house burns down – you may well be the recipient of a block of land – not the house, you thought you were buying. We can help organise home insurance1 for you. But no matter who you insure through – don’t forget to insure the property straight away.

Cooling off period

Did you know that if you buy a property at auction, or on the day of the auction, you won’t have the usual two business day cooling off period in case you change your mind?

It can be a little intimidating, but that’s why it’s so important to do your research, get the right advice and stick to your budget. That way you’ll be set to buy your dream home with confidence!

This is general advice only and doesn’t take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Conditions, fees and lending criteria apply and are available on request.

1Credit Union SA Ltd ABN 36 087 651 232, AFSL/Australian Credit Licence Number 241066, arranges this insurance as agent for the insurer Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL No 234708. We do not provide advice on this insurance based on any consideration of your objectives, financial position or needs. Policy terms, conditions, limits, exclusion and underwriting criteria apply. Before making a decision please consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement: Prestige Home PDS or Classic Home PDS. If you purchase this insurance, we receive a commission that is between 0% and 22% of the premium. Ask us for more details before we provide you with services.

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